Four Fictions
Greg Gerke


She wouldn't let him do what he wanted to do and this frustrated him. He was a writer and she was a painter and he tried to read his stories to her but she would stop him and tell him not now. Usually he wouldn't give in but she was older and thought she knew better but it pained him not to share what he wanted to share and he thought it odd he kind of really desired this woman who deprived him of doing what he wanted to do with her.
But then he read that run-on sentence again. What exactly was odd about her behavior? Wasn't that how relationships worked? In the past, yes. But he had been writing for some time, seeing women for some time and he had gotten to the point where he wanted something different from his writing and from seeing women. And he wrote it out that as they walked into her purple-walled apartment he announced he wanted something different and she said how admirable that was, but she still didn't want to hear his stories.
He then asked to see her paintings but she said that was not a good idea and he became very enticed because there was something she had that she wouldn't show him but because she was a painter and had not seen her work he couldn't tell people that he was seeing a painter because he couldn't answer questions about her work. So what was the attraction of her being a painter then? Maybe she lied. Maybe she made beaded necklaces. And he said, Hey, I have a story about a woman who makes beaded necklaces and she said what the hell are you talking about? And he said he didn't know and kissed her and she liked that and he thought it odd she would let him do that, but odder still, kissing was actually not what he really wanted to do, though she was tall and beautiful, and he stopped kissing her and asked again if he could read her his stories and she wanted to know if he was kidding and he looked at the tip of his nose and said, No, not kidding -- he wanted something different now. And she smiled and said his something different and her something different didn't really match. And he said he didn't even know she wanted something different, was she just being a copycat? And she laughed and said that she knew he was younger but thought him mature enough to realize that her something different could possibly insure something longer lasting because certain mysteries would be preserved. But he protested he was very mature, because he was writing the story, he knew the entrails of her mind, what would come next, and she again dismissed being a party to his art and stuck her tongue down his throat to stop any more words.

The Bee

They were wrong for each other, but they were in the same car. She was Norwegian and didn't make a big deal about it. He liked that, but less and less. A bee flew into the car and she laughed.
Why is she laughing in such a danger situation? he thought. I'm driving. The insurance company calls me if we crash. She gets carted around night and day and what if I told her she's only in my presence because going to a swimming pool alone is weird? I don't want guys hitting on me.
Did she laugh thinking of their favorite Shakespeare quote? The fault dear Brutus is not in our stars but in ourselves. How many more times could that be funny? She didn't even like Shakespeare -- Ibsen forever! And she loathed how he carried that academic hauteur even though he said he didn't. But it's summer and I'm trying to make it work because unemployment is a bitch and the musk smell behind his ear still invites me.
The bee was in the back. It was mad because she was laughing at it. You motherfucking woman, I'm a bee and I'm stuck in a car. It's hot and I'm hungry and you laugh at me? Still the bee kept trying to get out the rear window. Glass was glass but sometimes he would creep over a lip and buzz away.

The Washcloth

Alex visited his friend Louis. Alex arrived late and went directly to bed. He awoke -- thirsty and uncommunicative. But Alex needed something and he went into the kitchen where Louis turned a coffee grinder. "Do you have a washcloth?" Alex asked Louis.
"You haven't seen me in three years and all you want is a washcloth?"
This was not a conversation Alex wanted to have. He'd slept in his car for a month and warts were returning to his fingers, the price of being cheap and subsisting on Little Debbie swiss rolls. It had been a hard life and begging for a washcloth didn't fit the new, wart-free visions he had of himself.
So Alex hit Louis with the coffee grinder. "Ow," Louis said. "Ow. Now you'll never get a washcloth from me!"

He Hearted

He hearted it and when one swung at him he caught it like a basketball and went to licking. He licked both sides, both basketballs, because one big booty had two halves. This booty didn't have any right angles, no jagged fractals of flesh. The hemispheres had roundness so exquisite he started to laugh as he licked and the owner of the big booty was not happy. She said, Don't laugh or I'm putting my pants back on. And he said, Okayokayokay, but then he kept laughing because here he was in his bedroom with big booty, just as he had hearted, and he felt so fortunate, so alive -- he wrapped his arms around her and cried. What is it? What is it? she said. He wanted to answer but couldn't, not with a booty like hers. So he snuggled her big booty and ceased to dream because he had his dream, his heart having what it hearted and so could he just be with her always? Could he move to Chicago with her and then live together in the bedroom and not work but always embrace? He promised to embrace her other parts. They wouldn't have to eat -- well they did, otherwise the big booty would deflate. He promised to ask her about her college courses and whether the sociology exam was hard. And that all sounded good, but he reminded himself he currently had the big booty in heart and hand. And going to Chicago by getting on a plane and then a train and having to buy groceries and lamps and silverware for the new apartment -- there would be a lot of maneuvering before he could revisit the always hearted big booty. Goddamn this was difficult. So he didn't laugh and he didn't lick. Could he ever heart big booty again?